UTM Student Health and Counseling Services held an anxiety workshop recently via Zoom to discuss the definition of anxiety, identifying the signs of anxiety, and strategies to cope with anxiety.

The event, titled “Feeling anxious? Let’s talk about it,” was facilitated by Counselor Stephanie Hayslett, LCSW, and Health and Wellness Educator John’Na Webster, LMSW. 

Hayslett explained that anxiety, as defined by the American Psychological Association, is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure. She also discussed different thoughts and feelings associated with anxiety including feeling fearful, having intrusive or unwanted thoughts, being easily frustrated, overwhelmed, or irritated, and becoming restless.

Physical signs attributed to anxiety can be sleep disturbances, which includes an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep, feeling fatigue, having tense muscles or headaches, and difficulty concentrating. Hayslett also defined additional behavioral issues associated with anxiety such as fidgeting, overeating, angry outbursts or self harm. 

During the workshop, Hayslett and Webster also showed an informative video about the “fight, flight, or freeze” (FFF) response that is often associated with anxiety. That response, they said, goes back to early humans when they were attacked by predators. This video also discussed that when suffering from anxiety, our FFF response often comes when it is not necessary, which causes extra stress on our body and mind. 

Webster defined a few coping strategies that may help those suffering from anxiety. These include acknowledging your feelings, paying attention to your thoughts, maintaining healthy habits, staying connected to others, and setting limits on things that may contribute to stress and anxiety such as social media or the news. They also shared some tips for dealing with anxiety in the moment such as practicing deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation. 

Hayslett and Webster closed the session by sharing campus and community resources for those in need of extra support to work through any anxiety or other mental health problems they may be having.

Student Health and Counseling can be reached at 731-881-7750. 

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